Saturday, June 30, 2012

EcoMUVE goes real-world

It's kind of a magic story: Chris Dede created a virtual version of a real-world pond and loaded it up with learning projects and resources for students to explore ecology. Once that was successful in a pilot group of middle schools he responded to nature educators' criticism by creating augmented reality stations at the real-world pond he had originally based his Unity-created virtual world upon. Now students have the best of all worlds and those lucky enough to experience it, students and teachers alike, have gained a powerful set of experiences that they will treasure and remember the rest of their lives.

If I know Chris, he has some strong research-documentation practices in place that will benefit all of us who are convinced that the grossly outdated essential tenets of how we carry out education can, indeed, be changed for the good. Watch this video and catch info about the augmented reality piece after the jump.



Amazing, yes? It doesn't stop there, Chris has a well-funded team working on creating "kits" for teachers who want to explore creating both the virtual worlds and the augmented reality. His game-creation engine, Unity, is already available for free in its basic version. The company who created his augmented reality software will release a commercial version this summer. Want to understand that piece? Visit the EcoMobile website for that video. If that doesn't excite you, you may need to have your pulse checked to see if your heart is actually beating.

We need this. And no, I'm not saying it's the silver bullet, but it's certainly one aspect of future education we need to be planning for. As Dr. Dede said in his OLI keynote in San Diego last week, in 15 years even the poorest U.S. student will be coming to school with a device far more powerful than the most powerful supercomputer we have today. Will we be ready to deal with that? Not at this pace.

Let's step it up, y'all. Seriously. What about a virtual cemetery for a local history unit, tied to a local cemetery with embedded augmented reality (AR) resources? What about a recreation of a famous local building in a virtual world, with AR tasks and projects and assessments embedded at locations within the building? AR art history in a virtual and in a local museum?

It's coming, so let's be planning and creating. Over and out.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Online Learning Institute 2012--Reflections


NOTE: I'll clean this up and add some pics soon. Wanted to get it down as my train is pulling toward Ventura, my final stop on this lovely ride up the coast of California. And as I mention toward the end, I intend to do a similar treatment of the ISTE Conference proper. It was stellar and it deserves the same attention to reflection. Bear with me!

Here on the train on the way to Ventura, California, after ISTE 2012 in San Diego, I promised myself I would reflect on elements of the conference that struck me as "reflectionable." Funny, at my former job I forwarded the notion that all teachers/staff from the school who benefit from travel funding should be required to share a report of their trip with colleagues who have not, or those who may have travelled to another conference in another location. This was 'way back in 1996 or 1997, at the outset of the Read/Write Web, and it wasn't so easy to share online as it is today. Heck, today one need only pop a wiki up and populate it, or a blog, or a Voice Thread, or...or...or...

Administration didn't support that notion, and my current employer doesn't require that either, but that cannot stop the sharing addict from doing his nefarious work. Here goes. I'll be all linear about it. No, let's, blog-like, travel backwards. ISTE 2012 through the eyes of a seasoned ISTE/NECC-goer:

1. I'm on a train. from Oceanside, near Telecula (I think that's how you spell it) where I stayed last night with dear friend Lisa Linn and her husband, Steve. I'll be riding all the way up to Ventura, a 4 or so hour train ride, where my dearest friend, Jimmy Morrison (known to his movie, theatre, television, and concert fans as "James Morrison, the actor"), will pick me up and take me up to Ojai, where I'll have the pleasure of staying with Jimmy, Riad, and my godson, Seamus for 3 nights before flying home from LAX on Sunday. I'm sure I'll be posting pics from there as well. FYI my flickr stream from the conference is at the previous blog post, if you want to go visual. I may pop some into here as well.

2. Last night at Lisa's we just sat and talked with Steve and talked, Actually, Lisa and I had each taken a nap once we hit our house and exchanged pleasantries. I think I got around 3 hours of sleep then, which turned out to be a good "thing, since we powered through the final two episodes of ABC's Revenge" on their DVR and were up until nearly 1 a.m. Slept well, up at 7 for an hour long run (well, an hour long little old man jog-jog) through the beautiful suburban neighborhood (HILLY!). We had some gnosh then met Andy/Spiff in Second Life in order to join in on a discussion with an educator (search Hudsongirl and offer friendship) new to Virtual Worlds.

3. Thursday I saw nothing at the conference proper since I had committed to facilitate a round table discussion at this year's Online Learning Institute across the street in a beautifully appointed (if cell signal starved) meeting room there. I ran into friend David Warlick at the crosswalk heading over and he asked me if I were leaving, since I had all my gear--huge suitcase, rolling briefcase, backpack, and REI day bag--with me. I told him I was heading over to the all-day, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., OLI and he laughed and said that he had considered it but there were still sessions he wanted to attend at ISTE. I agree it was a trade-off, and I missed several sessions that I really wish I could have caught, but you know what? I'm pleased with how it turned out.

OLI is a function of EdTechLeaders Online, an online organization providing "capacity-building, research-based programs, courses, and services to enable organizations to build successful online and blended learning programs that meed the needs of their teachers, administrators and students." http://edtechleaders.org. Their considerable agenda is impressive--four keynote talks, three 45 minute sets of roundtable discussions (13 topics each), and lunch (a really delicious 3 course sit-down meal, incidentally).

My own session was to be in the second group, and I tentative planned to maybe ditch the 3rd round table discussion. Interestingly, by the time mine was over and I had experienced the second open. casual but serious discussion with impassioned online educators from around the country, I was hooked. I stayed the course and I'm glad I did. Look at the agenda http://oli.etlo.org/content/2012-agenda), and note (heh-heh) that at the end of each table's information there is a "notes" page where you can visit for more information about what was discussed. I did not get the name of the kind individual (a charter school representative) who took notes in my session, but I'll thank him here and will do so in person if he will sign his excellent notes. OLI always does this, and it should happen at every session: we received a paper handout with contact information with every attendee present. The only thing potentially cooler would be if that sheet had pictures attached to the names so I could match up my visual memories with names and email addies.

Brief notes from the day:

Chris Dede's talk was nothing short of personally validating. Clever, passionate, and funny at times, Dr. Dede has grazed (and graced) my life in several ways. He keynoted my first OLI, 3 years ago, where I met him and exchanged business cards. He was just beginning to work on his EcoMuve project then, and I was producing a podcast for Vanderbilt University, so I asked him if I could interview him for that. He graciously acquiesced but though that interview never gelled, we have run into one another ever since, and I did feature a bit of his Keystone Conference talk in Snacks 15, November 15, 2005. http://snacks4thebrain.blogspot.com/2005_11_01archive.html .kept up with him over the years, only to bump into him in a meeting room in Nashville, Tennessee early on in my new work as Online Learning Specialist for Metro Nashville Public Schools. He was part of a sort of star-studded consultant panel for our online learning planning and it was reassuring at the beginning of this current professional adventure that Chris was informing the effort. His clear demonstration of his work both in virtual worlds (built with Unity game engine) and in augmented reality (built with a platform which is to be released for others' use soon, his reworking of the buzz term "lifelong learning" into "life wide learning," his wake-up call to educators that in 15 years every student, not only the affluent, even the poorest child, will be coming to school with a device whose powers and potentials we cannot yet imagine--these things caused me to stop just short of proclaiming "amen" upon hearing and seeing them. Say "Contextualized Learning Networks" a few times over and you can get some feel for where he's going. He even mused whether this set of projects, modified for content in any discipline, could actually replace (or relegate to a support role) the "classroom." The combination of virtual worlds assessment via successful task completion at EcoMUVE, http://ecomuve.gse.harvard.edu/, with augmented reality outdoor versions in a real environment is pretty amazing. All the senses, all the learning styles, all the objectives, all the amazing student work. Beautiful.

The first roundtable session I chose was the one on Open Source for Online Learning. It was a robust conversation with tool sharing and I managed to share Dr. Yong Zhao's new platform which makes use of free and open source tools to power its amazingly facile set of tools. Check it out yourself at http://obaworld.net. Free to teachers, the hosts plan to offer it for 1 dollar per student annually. It's very cool, very intuitive, kind of a walled garden Facebook/MySpace/website for educators and students. With it, any user can create an online course and market it for free or for profit, so there's this very very neat entrepreneurial piece to it.

The second Keynote was termed "remarks" with "Remarks by Leslie Fetzer, SREB/iNACOL National Online Teacher of the Year" and "Remarks by Matthew Wicks, Vice President, iNACOL, Overview of National and International Online Learning. Ms. Fetzer has been at this a while and in fact due to her high status amongst online educators will be moving up into a national presence soon. She is a lovely presence and clearly passionate about what she does in North Carolina"s Virtual School.

The next set of roundtables was my session, and I won't over-detail that one. Just be sure to check its notes page at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1e4UptVm7FggwrS7Lxi8oHrXXbph38t6mkt8A7ajPxoM/edit?pli=1. We shared some interesting points with one another and I hope to stay in touch with some of my new friends from that session. I was pleased to meet Florida Virtual School's Director of Global Services at my table. We will be talking more soon.

The lunch was delicious baked chicken, a sit-down affair where we carried on more work discussion, and I was happy to chat with several educators, especially Myk Garn, Director of SREB, the Southern Regional Education Board. I believe we'll be talking soon as well.

The post lunch keynote, Dr. Curt Bonk, was wild and invigorating. He flew in from Indiana just for his keynote and flew back right after it. He likes to consider himself a bit of a wild man and I'd allow that there is some degree of accuracy to that classification. Over 30 minutes he railed on about the future, sharing tool after tool after tool and reminding me that iPads have only been around 2 years. What's next? Part of his energetic presentation was walking around the room with million dollar bills and handing them out to whomever could volunteer one new word that characterizes a successful online learning environment. Mine was "sharing," which he interpreted as "communication" in his own schema. Not exactly the same thing, but I do have the million. He also tossed out a couple smiley face stress balls and I snagged one of those. Nice. His information, and much much more--does Curt ever sleep?--can be had at one of his several resource-filled websites with the admirable url of http://www.trainingshare.com/. I have his card and I'm looking forward to adding his blog, http://travelinedman.blogspot.com, to my readings.

The final table session I chose to sit with the EdTechLeaders Online group discussing online professional development. This was the money shot for me, yielding as it did a webinar from them for ISTE SIGOL, and also establishing first contact with Intel in the form of Steve Andrews, toward looking into the possibility of obtaining free online learning courses for teachers from them for both SIGOL and my District.

My train is approaching my stop now, so I'll have to wait for the plane ride home to Nashville, likely, to do this same sort of treatment for ISTE at large. With a wildly successful SIGVE Virtual Environments Playground and a wonderful SIGVE EduMachinima Fest, and with one fantastic keynote by Dr. Yong Zhao, and with a potentially game-changing introduction to OBA, Dr. Zhao's new global platform for teachers and students, I'm ready to share. Stay tuned.





Tuesday, June 26, 2012

ISTE 2012 SIGVE Virtual Environments Playground!

We had a wonderful fabulous fun time at the ISTE SIGVE Virtual Environments Playground yesterday. I'm up mid morning to say that.

During the playground day we had anywhere from 10-20 folks at any given time enjoying the presentations here in San Diego via our live ustream into Second Life (THANKS, Gridjumper and Blue) and, surprisingly, we have had nearly 500 views of our work at our ustream channel! We'll do some editing of the material we archived there (when the recording technology worked and we remembered to hit that all-important "record" button), but you can view it there on your own as you will for now.

Our annual meeting went quick-like-a-bunny with the few, the dedicated, the cool ISTE SIGVE core getting together to chat about just what it is we are and we want to do. This is a "Birds of a Feather" session which we (typically out of the box and into the new) use as our annual meetup. After 6 really engaging share sessions in the Virtual Environments Playground from 8 to 4. It's history now, and we've archived it (more or less) at ustream.tv. You can visit our ISTESIGVE2012 channel there and hunt and peck to see some of the presentations to learn more right now.

You can also enjoy our annual meeting right here, right now...

Video streaming by Ustream
I want to thank our esteemed outgoing Lowly High Grand Poobah Andy Wheelock not only for the collaborative way we made the Playground happen again--despite the useless Smart boards (due to the amazingly sunny setting) and some technical wonks--but for being in my life, truly a "brother-from-another-mother." I met you in Second Life, Andy, under the moniker Spiff Whitfield, and I can't imagine my First Life without you. You've passed the SIGVE torch (and hat) to our new Lowly High Grand Poobah Bob Vojtek, and you are now elevated to Emeritus status. Bob will lead us this year, Kae Novak will do so the following year, and we will sustain. We will thrive. We will share. We are a tribe. In accordance with our clearly prescribed (I'm rofl) policies and procedures, we'll carry on into our new year toward ISTE 2013 in San Antonio, TX.

Join us at the 2012 ISTE SIGVE EduMachinima Fest tonight, 5:30 to 7:30, Room 11, wherever that is! And go view machima in many categories and VOTE now!

We have over 2500 members in our SIG, most of them (and we do value them) "lurkers." All of us are "lurkers" in many other arenas--there's just not enough time in any day for us to be fully engaged in every group whose efforts we admire and follow. There are many core members even here in San Diego who could not be here for this meetup but who contribute consistently to our work. And many who could not travel to San Diego this year, in a time of cut budgets and administrative belt-tightening. Thanks to all who could be here. Your reward? Here's what I like to call the "money shot" from the conference, the annual group photo after our meeting:


and I do want to remind you that the anniversary issue of our Virtual Education Journal is up at http://virtualeducationjournal.com -- go read! Thanks to Bob and Rosie for that massive contribution!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 1 1/2, Leadership Symposium at ISTE12

This morning is rolling out nicely, with one of my new educational idols, Michael Fullan, speaking about "Full System Change" in engaging ways with some very very salient points and some very very refreshing turns of phrase. "Simplexity" is a cool one, as is "successfulness." I am just jotting this down too help me remember to update this post later with why I think these terms are meaningful.

Meanwhile, help yourself to the iste12 slideshow. I'll be contributing to this at least daily, but it hopefully will give you a feel for how exciting this week is, as it develops and grows:



Here's my little slice of the above pie:


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Outrageous ISTE12 Schedule

Using the ISTE "conference planner," I've developed a game plan for ISTE12 in San Diego starting on Saturday. There are many many conflicts--a strategy I've developed over the years so that I have a reference at my fingertips for making ad hoc decisions about which wonderful opportunity to embrace; and there are many many sessions, workshops, and networking opportunities I have yet to discover and embrace, but here's a start on't. Hope to see you there!

After the conference I am spending one evening with friend Lisa Linn and her husband, then Thursday I'm boarding a train for a lovely ride up the coast to Ojai, California, where I'll spend some quality time with my dear friend/brother Jimmy and his son, my godson Seamus, and their beautiful wife and mom, Riad.

Like I said in the last post, this'll be the shizzzzzzzzz.


For you verbal learners, here's the thing in words:
----------------------------------------------------------------
Saturday, June 23
7:00-10:00pm
San Diego Padres Game Saturday
SDCC Tours and Transportation Desk
NOTES: Paid Reg
----------------------------------------------------------------
Sunday, June 24
8:00am-12:00pm
Leadership Symposium
6A
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5:30-7:00pm
Sir Ken Robinson
Exhibit Hall B1
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7:00-8:30pm
Learning with the World: Global Collaborative Learning through Projects
SDCC Halls DE Lobby
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8:30-10:30pm
President's Reception
Hilton Bayfront
----------------------------------------------------------------
Monday, June 25
8:00am-4:00pm
Games & Simulations Arcade
SDCC Sails Pavilion
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8:00am-4:00pm
Virtual Environments Playground
SDCC Sails Pavilion
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8:30-9:30am
SIGOL (Online Learning) Annual Meeting
SDCC 7A
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8:30-9:30am
Blending Real and Virtual Immersive Ecosystem Experiences: EcoMUVE and EcoMOBILE
SDCC 26B
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
12:45-1:45pm
Spreading the Word: Eight Ways to Start Conversations around Change
SDCC 6F
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
12:45-1:45pm
Creativity is the Killer App
SDCC 6A
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
4:15-6:15pm
SIGOL Forum: Trends and Issues in Online Learning
SDCC 11
NOTES: Time Conflict, Unpaid Reg
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5:30-6:45pm
SIGVE (Virtual Environments) Gathering
SDCC Sails Pavilion
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6:30-8:00pm
SIGOL Reception
SDCC West Terrace
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7:30-10:30pm
Google Party
Proper Pub
NOTES: Time Conflict
----------------------------------------------------------------
Tuesday, June 26
7:00-8:15am
Volunteer Leadership Breakfast
SDCC 6A
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9:30-10:30am
SIGADMIN thing with Andy
tba
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
10:00am-12:00pm
Partnering for Project-Based Learning: Student Technology Showcase
SDCC Halls DE Lobby
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1:00-3:00pm
Integrating a Flight Simulation Environment in the Classroom
SDCC Halls DE Lobby
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
2:00-3:00pm
A Broader Perspective on Data: Infographics and Visualization
SDCC 6E
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3:30-4:30pm
Oba private invite session
San Diego Marriott & Marina in the Del Mar meeting room.
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3:45-4:45pm
The Steep Unlearning Curve: Rethinking Schools, Classrooms, and Learning
SDCC Ballroom 20CD
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5:00-6:15pm
Designing New Spaces for Learning
SDCC 8
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5:00-6:15pm
PBL Birds of a Feather
SDCC 9
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5:30-7:30pm
Pearson Dinner for MNPS
Hotel Solamar
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5:30-7:30pm
Pearson Dinner for MNPS
Hotel Solamar
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5:30-7:30pm
SIGVE Machinima Fest
SDCC 5
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8:00-9:30pm
Goodbye Don and Anita party
Omni Hotel - Pool Deck
----------------------------------------------------------------
Wednesday, June 27
8:00am-3:00pm
Online Learning Institute co-sponsored by ETLO / ISTE / SREB
Omni Hotel Grand Ballroom A
NOTES: Time Conflict, Paid Reg
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8:30-9:30am
The Hero's Journey: World of Warcraft in the Classroom
SDCC 10
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9:00am-1:00pm
Interactive Videoconferencing Playground
SDCC Sails Pavilion
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
10:15-11:15am
Beyond Literacy & Numeracy in the Digital Age
SDCC 6F
NOTES: Time Conflict
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
11:45am-12:45pm
The Future of the Flipped Classroom
SDCC 7B
NOTES: Time Conflict

Unscheduled Items
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SIGADMIN thing with Andy
tba
Visit NBC Learn
booth(s) 5331